Q&A: Bronsen and the Expedition

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 at 9:22 PM
Q&A: Bronsen and the Expedition by Dakota Palmer
Photo: Dakota Palmer

Bronsen and the Expedition, a Washington, D.C.-area band, may have only been around for less than a year — but they’re already about to release their first EP, in addition to playing multiple shows around the eastern region of the United States.

On Sept. 22, the band played two sets at the King’s Rook in Erie, Pennsylvania to a small room, jam-packed full of people. The band, which is a fusion of jazz, funk and rock, played with such energy and grace that every person could be found tapping a toe to the beat. They’re the band you want your friends to know you heard before anyone else.

Bronsen and the Expedition, consisting of frontman and guitarist Bronsen Euard, keyboardist and vocalist Natalie Ahearn and drummer Conner Kessler, sat down with The Spectator to talk about the band.

Q: What are your backgrounds? How did you get into music?

Bronsen Euard: I started music at 7 (years old) singing in school. My first instrument was the electric bass that my mom found cheap from a friend. Since I was 8, I always was working towards the goal of being a better player. I sang in choirs and played at home for a long time before I started writing my own music and trying to make something new. Combining the work hard attitude of Erie with the multi-cultural influence of the D.C. area is what’s made me ready and able to perform the way I do now.

Natalie Ahearn: I’m from Frederick, Maryland. My history with music is not something you would expect to hear from somebody who would now be considered somewhat of a “jazz musician.” I studied classically until 19, was really into metal/hardcore music, and then my sophomore year of college, I decided to switch to being a jazz major and have pursued popular/improvised music since then. I love it. I always knew that I wanted to be writing with bands, performing with bands, but for a while I didn’t have that outlet. Getting into jazz, as well as keyboards and synthesizers is what got me here. I love the freedom that I have in this music, and just playing good music in general.

Conner Kessler: I am from northern Virginia, but spent most of my adolescent years living in Vienna, Austria. I was drawn to music because it is one of those few things that transcends wealth and peace. It is a communication of the human experience through sound. Drums became my passion because they feel like such a tactile way to express yourself artistically. They are the only thing that I think provide a physical release and personal expression.

Q: How did you form Bronsen and the Expedition?

BE: I really was searching for the right people to play with for a while. I knew I wanted Natalie, but I couldn’t find a drummer, and I didn’t know any bass players who were ready to commit. Natalie and I one day were listening to a band that had keys as the bass, and we had the idea of using a synth bass as the bass for this group. We thought about bands such as The Doors who used a keyboard as the bass and decided that we wanted this project to follow in a similar creative footstep.

NA: I knew Bronsen had these song ideas/the band idea for a while. He had a trio in high school that performed his music. We tried performing some of these songs with a few other musicians at first but things weren’t “jelling” — after some more thought I said to him: “Why don’t we look for people to play with that we haven’t played with before? Somebody who has something new to offer.” He said, sure, but who? I spent some time thinking and then realized that I had just recently, within the last month or so, jammed with this guy Conner from work. It was brief, but I knew from playing with him that he was cool and talented, and could play! So I hit up Conner, we got together as a group and clicked instantly.

CK: Natalie brought me to a practice, and I ended up liking these goons.

Q: What can we expect from your EP?

BE: You can expect a lot of interesting sounds at first (hahaha). You can expect a lot of passionate lyrics and a lot of groove mixed together. We are always trying to communicate intimacy in our music. We’re trying to make you feel what we feel, so expect that.
NA: A handful of well-written songs that we tried to capitalize on their strengths during the recording process. We wanted every song to be uniform to our sound but each one unique. It’s music that’s easy to listen to, but was recorded with a lot of thought and attention.
CK: A true attempt to make something worth listening to. 

Q: Who are your biggest musical influences?

BE: For me it’s the following: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Herbie Hancock, Robert Glasper, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Matthews Band, D’Angelo, Hiatus Kaiyote, Anderson .Paak and many more jazz and rock players. They’re all incredibly important. I think that jazz and rock and funk all come from the same place, so I try to listen to that soul and put it into my own music.

NA: As a piano player, Hiromi, Chick Corea, Robert Glasper…so many more. Just regarding general music-ness, I love (all of the above artists and) Esperanza Spalding, Hiatus Kaiyote, Weather Report, Cory Henry, Led Zeppelin, Rage Against the Machine, the list goes on. I also love electronic music.

CK: D`Angelo, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Robert Glasper, Anderson .Paak. Benny Greb, Chris Dave, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles.

Q: What’s your songwriting process?

NA: I can’t speak for the songwriting process, but I can say that Bronsen always has a complete vision of each song. He presents it to us, we learn it, and that’s pretty much how it goes. There’s always room though as individuals to be heard, Conner’s voice and my voice are heard, we always have that freedom.

CK: I like to write songs that tell a story.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

BE: We want to be playing as much as possible, and we want to be playing the most honest, grooviest and realest music that we can.

NA: Play live! That’s it. Get out there, be present and show people a really good time. Since we just recorded this album, and after it’s out, I’d say what we’re working on most is creating an experience for all of our audiences. We want to be something that people can connect with.

CK: Drumming for people who are worth playing with.

Q: How has your music changed since you began playing together?

BE: We’ve learned to adapt to each other more. In music, there’s something called the pocket, which is a very hard thing to describe, but can sort of be described as the rhythmic placement of the band. We constantly work on the pocket, trying to make our audience feel our music and make our music relate to the audience more and more.

NA: Personally, I think we’ve realized our sound on a deeper level. Simply from playing together so much and recording the EP, we’ve gained a better understanding of who we are as a band and how to play really well together. The more we play together and jam together, the better we sound and I think musically we sound better and better all the time because we’re always rehearsing and hanging out and getting to know each other. I think it will change more in the future through the band collaborating with other musicians and just expanding our set and lengthening/extending our songs live, creating more of a live experience, like I said in a previous question.

CK: It matured from enjoying the music to enjoying the emotion

Q: Anything else you want to add?

BE: I spent so long personally looking for people that I could really make something unique with. The fact that Natalie and Conner are on the same page is incredible, and it helps me not take it for granted when you have to trust two other people to create with you, and they constantly go above and beyond to play with me and to make this more than a band, but a group of people that constantly is searching for that beautiful place between the music sounding good, and the people being great.

NA: We haven’t even been together for a year. I’m excited to see what we do and where the music goes.

CK: I beat Bronsen at pool and Natalie at volleyball.

Dakota Palmer is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.  


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